2018 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
It’s finally here, folks: fantasy football season is upon us, and all of us football nuts are getting ready for our various drafts to take place. We all want the best players we can get, so I’m here to help you out in your journey toward fantasy domination.
Today, we’ll take a look at quarterbacks, usually the highest scoring position on your team. With every player, I’ll list their stats from the 2017-18 season as well as their bye weeks. You’ll also find some reasonings for why they deserve your pick, as well as a potential catch or two, because nobody’s perfect, right?
With most 12-team league formats, fantasy owners tend to take two quarterbacks on draft day, so here are my top 24 fantasy quarterbacks for this season, as well as a few bonus guys just in case you think I missed someone you’re hoping for.
1. Aaron Rodgers, GB (Bye Week: 7)
7 games: 1,675 passing yards, 16 TD, 6 INT; 126 rushing yards, 0 TD
The Good: Rodgers is the best quarterback in football, both from a fantasy perspective as well as from a “who I would want to lead my team for a season” point of view. He has consistently finished every season right at the top of the list in terms of fantasy points when he’s played he’s played in all 16 games, so this year should be no different. He’s as safe as it gets.
The Catch: He played in less than half of his team’s games last year due to a broken collarbone, an injury which as affected him in the past, although there’s not much reason to think it should happen a third time. He also lost his top target in wide receiver Jordy Nelson to the Raiders, which could hurt a bit.
2. Russell wilson, sea (7)
16 games: 3,983 passing yards, 34 TD, 11 INT; 586 rushing yards, 3 TD
The Good: Wilson may not be the second-best quarterback in football, but his fantasy value is almost unparalleled. A threat through both the pass and the run, he finished last season as the best player in all of fantasy football. Also, with the Legion of Boom all but depleted, he’ll need to score even more now that Seattle’s defense will be considerably worse than in the past.
The Catch: The Seahawks have done next to nothing to improve one of the worst offensive lines in football. Wilson was constantly running for his life last season, which could certainly be the case this year as well. That’s never a plus when it comes to fantasy.
3. Tom brady, ne (11)
16 games: 4,577 passing yards, 32 TD, 8 INT; 28 rushing yards, 0 TD
The Good: As much as most of us don’t want to admit it, Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, and his 2017-18 MVP season at the age of 40 was just icing on the cake. He has not missed a single game due to injury since 2009 and shows absolutely no sign of slowing down.
The Catch: “Father Time is undefeated” and all that cannot be ignored, but Brady has defied that arguably more than any other athlete in the history of American pro sports. However, he did lose key weapons in wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola this past offseason and Julian Edelman will be suspended for the first four games of the season.
4. Carson Wentz, PHI (9)
13 games: 3,296 passing yards, 33 TD, 7 INT; 299 rushing yards, 0 TD
The Good: Wentz spent nearly all of 2017 showing that he’s the next great quarterback in the NFL and was well on his way to the MVP before suffering a season-ending ACL tear in Week 14. Nonetheless, he should come back at full strength for 2018, and the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles have only gotten better through some nice roster moves this past offseason.
The Catch: It’s always scary to drat a player coming off a late-season ACL tear, but that’s really the only downside. Wentz is not supposed to miss much time, if any at all, so he should still be a great fantasy pick.
5. deshaun watson, HOU (10)
7 games: 1,699 passing yards, 19 TD, 8 INT; 269 rushing yards, 2 TD
The Good: Wow, just…wow. Watson was absolutely magnificent during his rookie campaign and was on pace to demolish every rookie quarterback record in the books prior to tearing his ACL in practice leading into Week 9. He has amazing chemistry with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and the two should become one of the best QB-WR duos in the NFL as time moves forward. He can also run the bell really well, which is always a big plus in fantasy.
The Catch: Much like Carson Wentz, the ACL injury is a bit concerning, but Watson has had plenty of time to recover. You could also argue that the limited sample size is a bit of a downer, but Watson has as much fantasy upside as literally anybody in football.
6. Drew Brees, NO (6)
16 games: 4,334 passing yards, 23 TD, 8 INT; 12 rushing yards, 2 TD
The Good: Although he’ll turn 40 this coming January, Brees is still one of the best quarterbacks in football. He has thrown for over 4,000 yards in 12 straight seasons and there’s no reason to think 2018 will be any different. He also has arguably the best supporting cast he’s ever had to this point in his career, which takes an enormous amount of pressure off his shoulders.
The Catch: Again, he’s turning 40, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, but much like Tom Brady, age is just a number for Drew Brees. The emergence of rookie running back Alvin Kamara could take a couple of touchdowns away from Brees, but you could also argue that Kamara’s brilliance in the passing game is more than enough to compensate from the fact that he’ll be a bigger presence in the offense as a runner.
7. Andrew Luck, IND (9)
0 games (injury)
The Good: Luck is as talented as just about any quarterback in the NFL and has always been amazing from a fantasy perspective when healthy. The addition of offensive lineman Quenton Nelson via the NFL draft will be a huge plus in the Colts’ ability to protect their franchise quarterback, who should have a brilliant return to the field after missing all of last season.
The Catch: Luck’s nagging shoulder troubles really caught up with him last year, forcing him to miss all of last season. Whenever a player misses an entire season, it always makes fantasy players a bit wary when drafting them, but he supposedly has looked great during preseason workouts and should return at full force.
8. Cam Newton, CAR (4)
16 games: 3,302 passing yards, 22 TD, 16 INT; 754 rushing yards, 6 TD
The Good: Arguably the best dual threat in football in terms of combining passing and rushing, Cam’s fantasy ceiling is sky high. He is the obvious focus of Carolina’s offense through the air and on the ground, and the latter half of 2017-18 saw him develop really nice chemistry with versatile running back Christian McCaffrey. The addition of wide receiver DJ Moore via the draft could also prove to be a big plus for Cam’s fantasy production.
The Catch: As high as his ceiling can be, Cam has also been somewhat inconsistent from a fantasy perspective; he makes a lot of mistakes and isn’t the best passer in the world. It’s also worse keeping in mind that, under Cam’s leadership, the Panthers have never had back-to-back winning seasons. They finished 11-5 last year, so should this trend continue, his fantasy value could dip.
9. Kirk Cousins, MIN (10)
16 games: 4,093 passing yards, 27 TD, 13 INT; 179 rushing yards, 4 TD
The Good: The Vikings snagged Cousins in free agency with a huge fully-guaranteed contract and clearly want him to help them get back to the postseason. Cousins has thrown for over 4,000 in all three of his seasons as a starter, oftentimes with a serious lack of weapons. With one of the best wide receiver tandems in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs and an emerging young running back in Dalvin Cook, Cousins has his best supporting cast to date and should use that to improve upon his already impressive numbers.
The Catch: The main issue I have with Cousins this season is that he’s entering a brand new offense in which there are players just as good, if not better, than he is. It might take him longer than drafters might hope to get acclimated into Minnesota’s offensive schemes.
10. Matthew Stafford, DET (6)
16 games: 4,446 passing yards, 29 TD, 10 INT; 98 rushing yards, 0 TD
The Good: Man, I feel for Matthew Stafford. He has been consistently excellent for most of his career from a statistical perspective, but he’s rarely listed as one of the league’s top quarterbacks because he’s never had a good enough supporting cast to win as many games as other players at his position. Nonetheless, those stats are what matters in fantasy, and he’s as solid in fantasy as most when he’s healthy.
The Catch: Through the first nine seasons of his NFL career, Stafford has never had a running back rush for 1,000 yards behind him. This puts way more pressure on his shoulders in that opposing defenses specifically plan against him, which unfortunately hurts his fantasy value.
11. Jared Goff, LAR (12)
15 games: 3,804 passing yards, 28 TD, 7 INT; 51 rushing yards, 1 TD
The Good: After a miserable rookie season in which the Rams ranked dead last in offense, Goff bounced back something fierce in 2017. He and running back Todd Gurley led the Rams to a complete 180, as the team finished last season first in offense. Head coach Sean McVay’s high-flying offense was exactly what Goff needed to show why he was worthy of the number one overall pick in 2016. The Rams are clearly in win-now mode with the addition of wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a variety of defensive upgrades, so expect the Rams to be firing on all-cylinders yet again.
The Catch: Goff was so bad in his rookie season that even a season as great as last year isn’t enough to make him a definite QB1 pick. He could very well have a better 2018 than 2017, but I need one more season of solid play in order to have full confidence in his status as a fantasy quarterback.
12. Jimmy Garoppolo, SF (11)
6 games: 1,560 passing yards, 7 TD, 5 INT; 11 rushing yards, 1 TD
The Good: The 49ers solved their long-running quarterback woes when they traded for Jimmy G in the middle of last season. The former assumed successor to Tom Brady is 7-0 as a starter, handily winning each of his five starts in San Francisco. Garoppolo is in a perfect situation to succeed with the offensive-minded Kyle Shanahan at head coach, and the offseason addition of pass-catching running back Jerick McKinnon gives him another solid weapon to work with.
The Catch: As great a situation as he’s in, Garoppolo will still require time to reach his fullest potential in San Francisco. He could very well finish the season as a top 10 fantasy quarterback, but his somewhat limited sample size and need to grow in his current system knocks him to the last slot on the QB1 list.
13. Philip Rivers, LAC (8)
16 games: 4,515 passing yards, 28 TD, 10 INT; -2 rushing yards, 0 TD
The Good: Arguably the most reliable fantasy option of the big three 2004 quarterback draftees, Rivers has remained a player who’s normally drafted as a high-end QB2 but finishes the season as a lower-half QB1. With wide receiver Keenan Allen fully healthy, he has a high-end weapon on the outside and running back Melvin Gordon continues to improve as a secondary option for the Chargers offense.
The Catch: Rivers offers next to nothing in terms of athleticism and can actually be more of a detriment on the ground than a benefit, making it so fantasy players have to really solely on his arm, which can be a bit troubling for a quarterback who isn’t exactly elite. The Chargers’ defense is also one of the best in the NFL, which could limit Rivers’s fantasy value in the fourth quarter in games.
14. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (7)
15 games: 4,251 passing yards, 28 TD, 14 INT; 47 rushing yards, 0 TD
The Good: With running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, Roethlisberger has undoubtedly the best supporting cast in the NFL around him. They can all make plays on their own, so all Big Ben has to do is get them the ball and his fantasy value is immediately boosted. And that’s not to say he can’t make plays on his own, as he certainly can. He’s easily a high-end QB2, even this late in his career.
The Catch: I have a hard time believing that Roethlisberger can still put up QB1 numbers. His arm has looked progressively worse over the past couple of seasons, and he can have individual games in which he looks terrible (like when he turned the ball over five times against the Jaguar in in just one matchup). He also rarely plays all 16 games in a season, so he’s somewhat injury-prone, an issue which only escalates as players grow older.
15. Matt Ryan, ATL (8)
16 games: 4,095 passing yards, 20 TD, 12 INT; 143 rushing yards, 0 TD
The Good: Although he took a big step back from his epic 2016-17 MVP campaign, Matty Ice was still a solid low-end QB1, high-end QB 2. The Falcons are a heavily offensive team, so Ryan will always have plenty of opportunities to succeed. Throwing to a wide receiver as great as Julio Jones doesn’t exactly hurt either.
The Catch: Outside of 2016-17, Ryan has never had a truly spectacular fantasy season. He’s consistently good, but rarely great. Nonetheless, he’s a solid bet as a backup just in case your QB1 gets hurt or you need a bye week replacement.
16. Derek Carr, OAK (7)
15 games: 3,496 passing yards, 22 TD, 13 INT; 66 rushing yards, 0 TD
The Good: The 27-year-old Carr has shown flashes of brilliance in his relatively young career and is unquestionably the future of the Raiders franchise and their offensive focus. Wide receiver Amari Cooper had a down year last season but has all the talent needed to improve, and the addition of Jordy Nelson could prove to be a huge asset for Carr’s progression as a quarterback.
The Catch: Carr has never put up QB1 numbers over the course of an entire season and certainly isn’t safe as your starting quarterback. It’s also impossible to tell how long he will need to adjust to new head coach Jon Gruden’s schemes, adding to the uncertainty of Carr’s upside in fantasy. Gruden also hasn’t coached in the NFL in over a decade, so we’ll have to see what happens before we can be truly confident in Carr’s fantasy value.
17. Dak Prescott, DAL (8)
16 games: 3, 324 passing yards, 22 TD, 13 INT; 357 rushing yards, 6 TD
The Good: Prescott still sits behind arguably the best offensive line in football, and running back Ezekiel Elliott is as fierce as they come on the ground, making it so that defenses have to focus on him just as much as Dak. Prescott is also a big threat on the ground, which is always great for fantasy.
The Catch: The Cowboys offense does rely heavily on Elliott, and his period of absence last year saw Prescott take a big step back in terms of fantasy value. With tight end Jason Witten retired and an uncertain wide receiver situation, it’s difficult to judge Prescott’s fantasy ceiling this season.
18. Patrick Mahomes, KC (12)
1 game: 284 passing yards, 0 TD, 1 INT; 10 rushing yards, 0 TD
The Good: Mahomes has an absolute cannon for an arm and coach Andy Reid seems excited about his potential. That arm should work wonders with a receiver as lightning fast as Tyreek Hill, and running back Kareem Hunt provides an entire other entity in the Chiefs offense for opposing defense to plan against.
The Catch: Andy Reid’s offense has always been slow and methodical, so it’s really difficult to judge how a high risk-high reward quarterback like Mahomes will fair in it. And judging by what’s come out of Kansas City’s camp so far, he doesn’t seem terribly accurate. Mahomes has a ton of upside, but tread carefully.
19. Marcus Mariota, TEN (8)
15 games: 3,232 passing yards, 13 TD, 15 INT; 312 rushing yards, 5 TD
The Good: The second overall pick of the 2015 draft continues to improve as time goes on, and he could very well break out as a star this season. He’s got nice weapons around him and the division rival Colts and Texans will both be better offensively this season, meaning that Tennessee will have to score a lot in order to keep up. Mariota’s ability to run also greatly helps.
The Catch: Mariota’s got a ton of talent, but he hasn’t shown signs of greatness in the realm of fantasy to this point. Many expected last season to be a breakout campaign for the young QB, but that didn’t come to fruition. He’s a pretty safe QB2 with upside, but don’t expect him to lead your team in points scored.
20. Alex Smith, WAS (4)
15 games: 4,042 passing yards, 26 TD, 5 INT; 264 passing yards, 2 TD
The Good: After the midway point of the 2017-18 season, I found myself saying something I never thought anybody would think: “Alex Smith could totally be the MVP of the league.” He slowed down considerably in the latter half of the season, but still had his best year as a pro. Having been traded from Kansas City to the Redskins even before Kirk Cousins left Washington, the team clearly wants Smith to act as their offensive focal point.
The Catch: Smith is the very definition of a system quarterback, in that he needs to be in the exact perfect place in order to succeed. He had amazing weapons last season and thrived in Andy Reid’s offense, but he’s entering a brand new system with a significant decrease in talent around him.
21. Case Keenum, DEN (10)
15 games: 3,547 passing yards, 22 TD, 7 INT; 160 rushing yards, 1 TD
The Good: Another “oh man, this guy could actually win the MVP” from last year, Keenum led the Vikings to an NFC Championship birth and put up nice numbers from a fantasy perspective. The Broncos clearly believe in him given their fervor in seeking him out, and he’s throwing to a pair of great wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
The Catch: 2017-18 was the first season in which Keenum looked like a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. Prior to last year, he was never looked at as anything but a backup. One year of excellence after four seasons of mediocrity is not enough to instill confidence in his fantasy value.
22. Eli Manning, NYG (9)
15 games: 3,468 passing yards, 19 TD, 13 INT; 16 rushing yards, 1 TD
The Good: Eli has elite receiver Odell Beckham Jr coming back from injury and an emerging tight end in Evan Engram, so he’s got plenty of people to throw to. Add in the addition of #2 overall pick running back Saquon Barkley and you’ve got a potentially elite crew surrounding the aging quarterback.
The Catch: I’ve always thought of Eli as overrated, but he’s always been serviceable from a fantasy perspective. Last year, though, he was so awful that he was even benched for Geno Smith. His arm was a wreck and his decision making was bad, the former of which is very unlikely to improve.
24. Blake Bortles, JAX (9)
16 games: 3,687 passing yards, 21 TD, 13 INT; 322 rushing yards, 2 TD
The Good: Bortles was serviceable last season but nothing special, so a QB2 designation is safe. However, his 2015-16 showed that he can put up big time fantasy value in garbage time, which the Jags will likely have more of now that every other team in the AFC South will most certainly be better than they were last season.
The Catch: With Leonard Fournette healthy, the Jaguars offense will almost certainly go with a run-first attitude. There also isn’t much to be excited about in terms of other weapons, especially with wide receiver Allen Robinson now on the Bears, and Bortles’s own talent isn’t enough to justify him as anything more than a low-end QB2 in fantasy.
24. Mitchell Trubisky, CHI (5)
12 games: 2,193 passing yards, 7 TB, 7 INT; 248 rushing yards, 2 TD
The Good: The Bears believes in the former second overall pick, picking up weapons in Allen Robinson and tight end Trey Burton to surround Trubisky. Chicago wants to develop him as a franchise quarterback, so he should have a high work volume this upcoming season.
The Catch: We honestly just don’t know how good Trubisky can be. He didn’t look particularly great in his rookie season and he had a very limited career as a starter in college. He could be a nice fantasy asset in the future, but there’s nothing safe about him at the moment.
25. Jameis Winston, TB (5)
13 games: 3,504 passing yards, 19 TD, 11 INT; 135 rushing yards, 1 TD
26. Tyrod Taylor, CLE (11)
15 games: 2,799 passing yards, 14 TD, 4 INT; 427 rushing yards, 4 TD
27. Ryan Tannehill, MIA (11)
0 games (injury)
28. Andy Dalton, CIN (9)
16 games: 3,320 passing yards, 25 TD, 12 INT; 99 rushing yards, 0 TD
29. Josh Rosen, ARI (9)
30. Joe Flacco, BAL (10)
16 games: 3,141 yards, 18 TD, 13 INT; 54 rushing yards, 1 TD